House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rights.

Topics

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the text and the premise of the hon. member's question are simply false.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that but I was quoting from yesterday's Hansard .

We were both here in 1990. She was busy busy with the leadership campaign and knows exactly what the Prime Minister was saying on the campaign trail in 1990.

That was flip-flop number one. Let us look at flip-flop number two. It is also from Hansard ; I am not dreaming it up.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said that he had ruled out a nationwide referendum on distinct society. This flies in the face of the Prime Minister's promise to give Canadians a say in the future of their country. It also flies in the face of his commitment back in 1992, which I am sure the Deputy Prime Minister will remember, to put any major constitutional change to a referendum.

Will the Prime Minister keep the promises he made in 1992 and in the recent throne speech to hold a national referendum on any attempt to entrench distinct society in the Constitution?

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, again the premise of the hon. member's question is false.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is something far more serious at stake here than someone standing up and just saying that the premise of the question is false.

I was quoting yesterday's edition of Hansard and quoting something the Prime Minister of the country said in 1992 before he was Prime Minister.

It is easy to toss this off, but when the Prime Minister is going directly against things which he said earlier, that he is about to entrench distinct society with the support of only seven provinces and 50 per cent of the population, surely the Deputy Prime Minister remembers what the Prime Minister did only a year ago, which was to entrench the veto for the five regions in the country.

Since B.C., Alberta and Ontario all have serious reservations about entrenching distinct society and special status in our Constitution, I would like to ask this one more time. How do the government, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister expect to entrench distinct society in the Constitution? How in the

world will it ever pass the five region veto which this government brought forward last year?

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, when we hear the poisonous rhetoric emanating from the Reform Party it is no wonder it is in the position it is in the current polls.

The hon. member, instead of lecturing the Prime Minister on his commitment to recognize the distinctiveness of Quebec, a recognition that he has characterized throughout his career, would be better off if she talked to some of her own colleagues.

I have a quote of the kind of poisonous rhetoric that is emanating from the member for Simcoe Centre who, in a recent unity forum, said: "French Canadian prime ministers have led this country down the road to ruin. The mood is that they are not doing their job".

I would like to point out to the member what the member for Simcoe Centre heard from one of his constituents: "If you dump on French Canadians you are going to send this country down the road to separation".

You are sending this country down the road to separation. That is the kind of vicious rhetoric which pits Canada against Quebec and we will not stand for it.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I would like you to address the Chair in all of your statements, please.

Radio Canada International
Oral Question Period

December 10th, 1996 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the heritage minister does not have a reputation for making consistent comments in this House, but there is a limit. For example, when she was appointed heritage minister, she pledged to save Radio Canada International.

Will the heritage minister explain to the House why, barely one year later, she has now decided to shut down Radio Canada International?

Radio Canada International
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we are all grateful for the work done by the international component of the CBC.

I am pleased to see that the hon. member, who wants to destroy Canada, is nevertheless supportive of the CBC. Now, this shows a lack of consistency in the Bloc Quebecois' policy. These people want to destroy the country, but they also want the CBC to keep broadcasting abroad.

Regardless of that inconsistency on the part of the Bloc, it goes without saying that the government hopes to find the means to allow Radio Canada International to continue its operations. I have had several discussions with my colleagues regarding this issue. We have not found the necessary funds, but we always want to leave the door open.

Radio Canada International
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not inconsistent on our part to defend the CBC. We paid for it, it belongs to us as much as it belongs to the rest of Canada. Once we have decided to become sovereign and the only thing left to do is to change the name, we will do so.

How could the minister pledge, before the Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal, that Radio Canada International would continue to exist as long as she would be Minister of Canadian Heritage?

Is the minister doing the number that she did with the GST?

Radio Canada International
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

No, Mr. Speaker.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the premise of the Deputy Prime Minister's response is false. The member for Simcoe Centre referred to Prime Ministers from Quebec's having led this country to ruin. That was the quote, Mr. Prime Minister.

The throne speech referred to all Canadians having a say in the future of their country. The premier of Ontario is a supporter of referenda but he also has his priorities right. He wants to talk about jobs and the economy, not the Constitution.

The premiers of the three most populated provinces, including Quebec, are against distinct society, yet the Prime Minister ignores them.

In order to ensure that the will of the Canadian public, not this government, is reflected in any constitutional change, will the Deputy Prime Minister assure this House that the question on distinct society will be put to a national referendum?

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I happen to have a copy of the article that was in the Examiner written by Bob Bruton in which the member for Simcoe Centre was quoted as saying: ``French Canadian prime ministers have led this country down the road to ruin. The mood of the people across Canada is that they are not doing a good job. The mood is that maybe we should try someone else''.

That kind of vicious rhetoric, applauded by his colleagues in the Reform Party, is an unfortunate reflection of why this party is becoming more and more marginalized-

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is vicious around here is catering to the separatists, the distinct society.

The Prime Minister was against distinct society in the Meech Lake accord. Then he was for it in Charlottetown. He was against raising it in last year's referendum and now he is for it.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister explain to this House why Canadians should support the idea that the Prime Minister himself waffles on and for which does not have the support of the public or of the premiers of Canada's three largest provinces, including Quebec?

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I would refer the hon. member to his own comments. His comments were not about separatists. They were about French Canadian prime ministers.

There is no one in this country who has fought harder to bring people together, to build bridges, than Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

When the member labels French Canadians as separatist, he does every Canadian a disservice.